Psalm 99:1-5 Praise to God for His Holiness
The LORD is king; let the peoples tremble!
He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
The LORD is great in Zion;
he is exalted over all the peoples.
Let them praise your great and awesome name.
Holy is he!
Mighty King, lover of justice,
you have established equity;
you have executed justice
and righteousness in Jacob.
Extol the LORD our God;
worship at his footstool.
Holy is he!
Romans 8:18-30 Future Glory
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.
This morning we will be reflecting on the very last part of the prayer that we regularly pray and say, individually and together. The Lord’s Prayer appears in Matthew 6 and Luke 11, but if you look at these scriptures you will see that this last line of the Lord’s prayer is not there.
The final line of the Lord’s Prayer is not part of the original prayer given by Jesus, but was added by the Church. It returns us to the beginning: to praise of God and to the kingdom of God. We seek God’s help in the hard things of our lives and then, at the end of the prayer, the camera lens moves back again so that we see everything against the background of God’s creation, God’s time and God’s purpose.
The Psalms were the prayer book of Jesus and they shape the vocabulary of praise in every generation of God’s people. In Psalm 99, we proclaim that the LORD (whose name is holy) is king and his kingdom is founded on justice and fairness.
When we are shaken and stirred and our lives turned upside down, the Lord’s Prayer gives our lives fresh focus and perspective. ‘Thine is the kingdom’ is a declaration of faith and hope and victory.
Here in the UK we have now completed the ninth week of lockdown. It has been a long haul and looking ahead there is much uncertainty. Many of us are realising and coming to terms with the fact that we will probably not get a summer holiday, something that this year, more than any, seems particularly needed. For church leaders it has been a surprisingly busy time. Preparing for and holding online services has put them on a very steep learning curve, plus there has been the difficulty of doing pastoral work over the phone. For businesses preparing for a safe return to work and schools preparing to reopen, it has likewise been a trying time. Needless to say, those who have been our essential workers and those who have worked from home whilst home-schooling children have given of their time tirelessly and they must be exhausted. In our own country and notably in America, and indeed in other countries, we see that some people are resisting the need to socially distance and are complaining of an infringement of their freedom and rights. Most people however, it seems, are wary of easing restrictions too quickly. As Christians, what are our rights and responsibilities?
I recently read a reflection from Canon J John, which I thought was so good that I will quote a large part of it.
‘First, I think we need to remind ourselves of God’s grace in our lives. You see, there is the temptation to think of what we have as our own. We think of our time as our own, our property as our own, our lives as our own. But they aren’t. We don’t own our lives; we are merely tenants and the Landlord has a perfect right to give notice of eviction at any time and without warning. Everything we have and enjoy is something that has been given to us. As St Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:7, ‘What do you have that you did not receive?’ That is true of everybody in some sense, but it is particularly true for those of us who have put our faith in Christ. Paul again, writing in Romans 8:32, says, ‘He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?’ So let’s not focus on the loss of what was never really ours to keep and instead give God thanks for what we have been given and enjoy it. That we have so many rich memories of times with family, friends and freedom is an act of grace from a God who gives freely out of love. Let’s rejoice in what we have, not grumble over what we haven’t. Let’s be grateful!
Second, I think we need to remind ourselves of God’s governing over our lives. Psalm 31:15 says, ‘My times are in your hands.’ One of the merits of this COVID catastrophe is that it has been a nudge in the ribs about how vulnerable we all are. That’s no bad thing: whenever we use the words ‘the Lord’ we should recall that it is an acknowledgement that God is in charge of all that we are and have. There are many Bible verses that remind us of this; for example, Job 1:21, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.’ In the New Testament we read, ‘For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it’ (1 Timothy 6:7). In these difficult days, it’s absolutely vital to remind ourselves that God is in control. If you have put your faith in Christ, then you have not been robbed of good things by some evil power, you have instead had your access to them restricted by a heavenly Father who intends good for you. In these days of isolation many parents are wisely limiting the time children spend in front of screens: they are doing it not out of malice or because they want to ‘rob’ their children, but for their benefit. So it is with God. He rules over us in love and acts for the very best of reasons: love. We need to trust him. Let’s be faithful!
Finally, I think we need to remind ourselves of God’s goodness for our lives. One of our weaknesses is that we focus on the here and now which, for most of us at the moment, is frustrating. But to borrow a phrase of politics and negotiation, God is ‘playing a long game’. His goals for us who have put our faith in Christ do not focus on providing temporary and limited blessings for today, but on ensuring that we are fit for tomorrow’s unlimited existence in the glory of eternity. Let’s be hopeful!’
Ref: May 26th, 2020 J.John Blog
The world does not revolve around us. God is the creator. To God belongs the glory, not to us. As we end the Lord’s Prayer with ‘For thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen’ we offer our worship and acknowledge that we are not the centre of the world. We do however, have a glorious hope, that we have been called and justified by Jesus Christ, that all things work for the good of those called according to his purpose, and that we will be glorified with Him. Amen, Alleluia
Mary Tynan, May 30, 2020